I’m excited to announce that I have a new article out with Tracy Quan and Wenhao Diao, “Returning to Normal?: Reimagining Study Abroad and Langauae Learning for a Sustainable and Equitable Future”. It is in a special issue of the L2 Journal, “Study Abroad During COVID and Beyond”. The L2 Journal is open access, so you should be able to read the entire issue online!
The special issue as a whole focuses on the impact of the COVID pandemic on study abroad, and the variety of outcomes as study abroad begins to open up again. Not surprisingly, study abroad as a practice, industry, and area of research was dramatically impacted by study abroad. After the numbers of U.S. students studying abroad grew dramatically in the 21st century, 2020 saw almost a complete halt to the entire enterprise. There were pivots to virtual materials and exchanges, as everywhere else, and even as study abroad begins to resume, the impacts of the pandemic remain.The special issue as a whole discusses a variety of topics, from changes in student perceptions abroad, to curriculum development, to the incorporation of virtual exchange, and I encourage you to check it out.
As critical study abroad scholars, our article suggests that in addition to feeling relief that study abroad can resume, we should view this restart as an opportunity to reimagine study abroad. In addition to stopping study abroad, the pandemic also highlighted social inequities, including renewed attention to the Black Lives Matter movement, the sharp rise in discrimination against Asians and Asian Americans, the large number of women dropping out of the workforce, and the disparate impacts of COVID correlated to race and socioeconomic status. We emphasize that these social inequities also existed in study abroad, with race, gender, and socio-economic status impacting access to and experiences during sojourns abroad. Rather than returning to an inequitable “normal”, can we use this an opportunity to work towards creating something better?
In the article, we offer a number of suggestions for consideration, including attention to ideologies of study abroad (a prominent topic on this blog!), incorporating critical and translingual approaches, and integrating study abroad with other language learning opportunities, including virtual exchange and domestic connections.
So be sure to check out this special issue, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on our article!